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NICK KISSNER
Wood Lake, Minnesota 
About Nick Kissner

One of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up
Recognized for his poem, Under His Roof

 

 

Under His Roof

I ain't no pure nor saintly person,
Ain't been to church, can't remember the day,
 Do things different than most, I guess,
Talk to the Lord in my own way.

We visit out ridin' fences,
Baskin' under bright blue sky,
Or while watchin' a mighty thunderstorm,
Waitin' for the trail to dry.

There's lots of fancy churches,
Windows stained and painted white,
But talkin' under His own roof
Just seems to fit me right.

There's lots of time for conversin',
On a long and lonesome ride,
 Sometimes feels like he's saddled up,
Ridin' by my side.

I'm just a workin' cowboy,
Known as friend by nary a few,
I'm bettin' that was the plan for me,
Since this ol' world was new.

I hear tell the Good Book says,
"Blessed are the meek"
Suits me fine, 'cause peace inside
Is all this cowboy seeks.

© 2002, Nick Kissner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


We asked Nick how he came to write this poem and he told us:  I wrote this poem after a friend of mine, who I ride with, mentioned he hadn't attended church as much as he maybe should.  He is a great guy and has strong values which I respect.  I told him I thought it was what was in a man's heart that made him Christian and not necessarily his church attendance record.



 

Remembering a Friend

This morning my heart is heavy,
As I remember my time with you.
The sun doesn't shine as bright this morning,
The sky is a different blue.

For years we journeyed together,
We worked as a team, you and I.
The sun doesn't shine as bright this morning,
Rain clouds fill the sky.

My memories are many that I will carry,
The rest of my earthly days.
The sun doesn't shine as bright this morning,
There's so much I'd like to say.

We struggled through valleys and mountains,
And you let me set the pace.
The sun doesn't shine as bright this morning,
Tears stream down my face.

Old friend, I miss you already,
On you I always depended.
The sun doesn't shine as bright this morning,
But the rain has finally ended.

Suddenly there shines a rainbow,
And hope replaces remorse,
As this cowboy remembers a friend;
His trusted and faithful horse.


© 2002, Nick Kissner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Nick told us: This poem came to mind when a friend said he tries to sell his horses before they get too old and he has to deal with their death. I however, thought I owe them an earned retirement at the ranch until they die.


 

Forever A Cowboy

A century has come and gone,
Since we settled the western plain.
The history we made and the tricks of our trade,
Are left in the few that remain.

Some question the need for the things we do,
And protest the means of our labor.
But there's a reason we stand firmly committed,
To our country and to our neighbor.

You see, a cowboy lives and works each day,
By the values he holds to be true.
He trusts in the Lord, his horse and his friends,
And stands up for the red, white and blue.

He savors big sky and the clouds over head,
The smell of tall grass when it's green.
There's always time for campfire coffee,
The blackest you've ever seen.

He feels unique, even lonely at times,
Seems the world has plum passed him by.
That's the reason he loves it so much,
Maybe now, you understand why.

© 2004, Nick Kissner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Underneath It All

Some years past, maybe two before last,
I figured somethin' out about me.
For riches, I don't aspire, neither look to retire:
I'm not the man I pretended to be.

I long to be free, live long enough to see
My grandchildren ridin' this range.
Like their mothers before, my daughters, all four,
I don't think that sounds at all strange.

I feel the wind in my face, in this wide-open space,
Where there's ample room to roam.
Away from the cars, out under the stars,
This is the place, I call home.

I gather my rein and ride through the pain,
Under skies, stormy or clear.
I run horses and cattle, avoid the snake's rattle,
And scratch out my livin' out here.

Loyalty runs deep in the friends that I keep,
We share in the cowboy code:
Walk and talk true in the things that you do,
And carry your share of the load.

This world may change, even out on the range,
but the men will remain the same.
You'll never replace them, outlast or disgrace them,
And they're not ashamed of their name...Cowboys.

© 2005, Nick Kissner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



 

Nails

There's a story along every trail we've ridden,
Of sorrow, passion and pride,
Over rivers, canyons and mountains crossed
On life's long and lonesome ride.

And as time goes by, I'm led to wonder,
Who will carry on the tradition,
Will there be anyone left who really cares,
About our way of life or it's future condition?

If the ways and workin's of cowboys die out,
And no one stops to ask why,
There'll be no need to ride on the herd,
No soft, sweet sounds of a cowboy lullaby.

This ranch, I know, will someday be gone,
And few are the pieces that will live and remain,
A post, maybe two, some nails and rusted barbed wire,
And memories of days we prayed for rain.

My friend Gus, has more than a time or two said,
"Ned, when us cowboys grow old, bent and frail,
Will anyone who walks where we have walked,
Even care enough to pick up a nail?

Gus, my hope is that someone will always be here,
To step in our steps along these trails,
And that the Lord sees to it, he's a cowboy like you,
Who'll take time to stop...an pick up the nails.

© 2005, Nick Kissner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 


A Word About Charlie

Today, I walked in sadness, to a spot high atop a hill,
And mornin's light, brought on a numbing, autumn chill.
Some fellow hands, stood gathered with me there,
With collars standing tall, against the crisp, November air.

Matchin' sorrel horses, pulled the funeral cart,
To where the journey ended, just a mile from it's start.
We carried the fallen cowboy, to his final restin' place,
And the feelin' in my heart, was reflected on my face.

The stones stood straight in line, like soldiers in a row,
But told very little about those buried there below.
I believe a man lives on, through others left behind,
And needs no earthly marker, marble or any other kind.

The words I heard spoken, were words I'd heard before,
But I needed folks to know, there was a little somethin' more.
I said, "He never asked a favor, wouldn't back down from a fight,
He'd give the shirt right off his back, and he treated ladies right.

"He loved this way of life, more than life itself,
He put his trust in God, and left his worries on a shelf.
As a cowboy, I know there's been some better,
But he embodied cowboy, each and every letter."

I told them, he was more a man, than any of us all,
Even though his place in hist'ry, may seem mighty small.
I bet ol' Charllie's lookin' down, thinkin' I've lingered long enough,
And I'd better move his cows, 'fore the weather gets too rough.

© 2008, Nick Kissner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Nick comments, "I used a combination of the character and personalities of a couple older friends, who had recently passed on, as the inspiration for this poem. Their names were Gene and Roy. Seems there was another couple of good ol' boys by that name."
 

The Line Rider

I see snow has fallen durin' the night,
the arthritis in my knees had it right.
I sit here starin' at another day, ridin' fence,
and early on, I wondered if this life made any sense.
All this coffee, and these flapjacks and eggs,
don't seem to be helpin' these tired ol' legs.

The years have slipped by, as they tend to do,
A lifetime has past, since my start as a young buckaroo.
Gone are the days of my cowboy youth,
and now some folks say, I'm long in the tooth.
Not that I'd trade mine, for another man's lot,
I thank the Good Lord, daily, for all that I've got.

I can't reverse the clock, but I can state for sure,
I feel somethin' deep inside and I ain't lookin' for no cure.
I'm livin' close to Heaven, right here on Earth,
and who can say for certain, just what that's worth?
I've ridden mighty fine horses, trailed thousands of cattle,
And I wouldn't give up a day, I spent in the saddle.

It'd be hard understandin', for any outsider,
This dedication to the brand and my work as a "Line Rider."
But as I saddle Ol' Paint, and head out into the snow,
I recollect, I'm one o' the luckiest men I know.
'Cause it's nary a few, who spend each day,
concerned more 'bout their work and less 'bout their pay.

© 2009, Nick Kissner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


Alone at the Top

Far across this rugged plain, on a mountainside high,
Sits a solitary man, silhouetted by the day-endin’ sky,
Watchin’ over his stock, in the valley below,
Reflectin’ on why he’s a cowboy, and why he loves it so.

His, is a simple story; one of startin’ over, you could say,
‘Cause he once worked a big city job, some distance away.
But he tired of all those people and the daily commute,
Packed his bags and chose a different route.

He invested in freedom, grassland and cattle,
Bought him a fine string o’ horses and a custom-made saddle,
Now, the closest he comes to those big city lights,
Is lyin’ in his bedroll on clear, summer nights.

This cowboy, I know, lives life not to get rich,
And understands others may think he's off, just a titch.
The road he’s chosen and the lifestyle he lives,
Mirrors no other, in the reward that it gives.

There’s somethin’ to be said, for a man true to himself,
For a man not leavin’ his notions and dreams on a shelf,
One that follows his heart, shows the stamina and the will,
To fight through struggles and remain in the saddle, still.

His story never made the local paper or the Wall Street News,
No one ever asks his philosophy on life, or his political views.
He claims to be nobody’s hero, never pretended to be,
But he’s somethin’ mighty special, to his ma and me.

© 2011, Nick Kissner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


 

Take My Hand

As a youngster, she’d tip back the hat on her head,
and look up and listen, to what her grandpa said.
The little girl would smile and giggle, as he joked,
‘bout things that made no sense, to most other folk.

However, in the eyes of that little girl,
grandpa was the funniest man in the whole, wide world.
He’d tell the same stories, again and again,
often of things he hadn’t done, and of places, he’d never been.

But she never tired of those visits to grandpa’s place,
and, it was easy to see the joy on her grandpa’s face.
She’d call and ask, “Can we go for a ride?”
And they’d head out on their horses, side by side.

They’d ride for miles, to check on stock,
payin’ no mind, to the hands on the clock.
She remembers, as they rode home one night,
He said, “I’m givin’ you that horse, he fits you, just right.”

There were times she was frightened and scared,
but grandpa put her at ease and showed her, he cared.
He’d say “Little girl, we’re both ridin’ for the brand,
don’t worry, it’ll be okay, just take my hand.”

Now, grandpa’s days are comin’ to a close,
his old bones ache, from his head, down to his toes.
His cowboyin’ days have been over for years,
thoughts of those days, often bring him near tears.

But what lightens the load, day in and day out,
is that little girl, he still loves to talk about.
He’ll tell anyone, who’ll stop and listen,
‘bout those pretty blonde curls, and blue eyes that glistened.

That little girl has long since grown, but she too recalls,
the jokes, the rides and all those telephone calls.
She remembers makin’ wishes, at the ol’ ranch well,
and still laughs at the tall tales, her grandpa used to tell.

Today, when she came to visit, for maybe the last time,
the ol’ cowboy had no jokes, or stories of rhyme.
But his face lit up with a big, broad smile,
when she showed him the pictures, she’d kept all the while.

There were photos of her, in chaps, boots and hat,
nothin’ ever made grandpa, happier than that.
She said, “Grandpa, come walk with me, we’ll walk for the brand,
don’t worry grandpa, it’ll be okay... just take my hand.”

© 2014, Nick Kissner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Nick comments: I wrote this for a good friend of mine, who would receive a daily phone call from his very young granddaughter. He said, she would often ask if she could come to his place and have a ride on his horse. He loved to dress her in full cowgirl attire, including chinks, especially when she would accompany him to town or a special occasion. He read this poem, in the company of his granddaughter and myself, at the local school where we were presenting a program on the western lifestyle and history of the cowboy. I felt honored for him to do so.


 


About Nick Kissner:

My wife Char and I have farmed for thirty years but enjoy the ranching end of things the most, running a cow-calf operation of commercial Angus cows. We trail ride and compete at ranch rodeos when time allows. Char is also an RN, so we really value our time together.  It was rewarding for both of us to serve as 4H leaders when our daughters were involved in the horse project because we have always liked working with youth and horses.


We asked Nick why he writes Cowboy Poetry and he told us: "A friend of mine got me interested in poetry a few years back. I admired the way he could commit all his thoughts to memory. I can't, so I started writing them down and just kept writing. Cowboy poetry allows me to express the importance of family values, love of country and the little things people nowadays seem to have no time for."

You can email Nick Kissner.


 

 

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